“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Last Sunday, December 30, 2012, John Piper announced from the pulpit that he was about to deliver his last sermon as pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Here is how he began that message.
"Before I pray, let me clarify and invite you something. The clarification is that yes, this is my last message as pastor for Preaching and Vision after thirty-two and a half years. And no it's not the last message probably. I'm done March 31, and Jason begins my role on Wednesday morning at 12:01, and he will be installed January 20, and then there's a farewell service for me April 14, so if you wonder how that all plays out, that's the clarification.
The invitation is one of the most amazing gifts that you could give to Jason besides the two you've already given him, namely a 98% vote on the first ballot and then a 97% vote on the second one three months later. You have confirmed by your God-given action his call from God to fulfill the role of pastor for preaching and vision, and the gift you could give him is to meet this year's budget, and I mean that. I think of myself in his shoes and what it would mean to be catapulted into the new year, my first year, with this church for the first time in what ten years maybe having met its budget. You're this close. You're closer than you've been in a decade to meeting our budget, so that would be sweet. Let's pray."
It sounds like Jason Meyer began John Piper's 'role' at Bethlehem Baptist early yesterday morning. Can anyone clarify whether this is what Piper meant in his statement?
My initial reaction was that the announcement seems somewhat premature based on an article I read last March in The Christian Post. That article entitled John Piper Readying to Step Down; Successor Candidate Named included the following information: (link)
"Piper has openly talked about how churches should handle succession, including how his is being handled at his own church. Last year, Piper sat down with fellow theologians D.A. Carson and Tim Keller to discuss and compare notes on their succession for their churches and ministries.
He updated his congregation about his succession plan last June, saying that he proposed to the elders that he transition from pastor for preaching and vision to full-time writing, teaching, mentoring, and speaking on June 30, 2014."
I am left wondering where the date June 30, 2014 originated. Is Piper stepping down over a year earlier than initially planned, and if so, why?
What does John Piper plan to do when he steps aside at Bethlehem Baptist Church? Last Spring he responded to that question on the Desiring God website: (link)
What will you do?
"After the overlap season with Jason, Noël and I and Talitha plan to leave town for a year or so and find a place for writing and reflection."
It sounds like John Piper will be leaving Minneapolis next spring for at least a year. In addition to his writing and reflecting, he will probably continue speaking at conferences. This week he has been in Atlanta speaking to an audience of over 60,000 at the Passion conference.
In early February, John Piper and his church will be hosting the Desiring God Pastors Conference. Here is a promo video.
It will be interesting to observe whether this annual conference continues after Piper's departure from Bethlehem Baptist.
Finally, I don't understand why Bethlehem Baptist Church hasn't made its budget during the last ten years (according to John Piper – see above quote). One would think that a congregation with such a high profile pastor would be motivated to meet the financial needs of the church year after year. Jason Meyer may have some challenging years ahead of him.
What are your thoughts regarding John Piper's departure from Bethlehem Baptist Church?
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 21:1-22:20 Luke 1:26-56 Psalm 57:1-11 Proverbs 11:9-11